Joel Bakan should really need no introduction: he is the author of The Corporation: the Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power, a bestseller in numerous countries and winner of countless awards, and  the writer and co-creator of the accompanying documentary (also an award winner: The Corporation won best documentary at the Sundance Film Festival).  He is also a jazz musician and a professor of law at the University of British Columbia, but still somehow found time to write his most recent book, Childhood Under Siege: How Big Business Targets Children

Joel Bakan is a featured author at The Word on the Street festival (September 28 to 30), and we are more than honoured to present his Top Slop, which follows below.

There are some great restaurants in Vancouver. Tojo’s and Vij’s come to mind – to everyone’s minds. They get enough praise. They don’t need more here. So let me offer my list of less celebrated, though, at least for me, equally special places:

Chin Ho

Tiny and family-run, the ever-gracious Shirley serves out front, while her gifted husband cooks in the back. Lunch is under $20, for two, spectacularly fresh, tasty, and alive with energy (dinner is just as good and may set you back another five or ten bucks). Try the garlic and salt prawns with an order of steamed gai lan and oyster sauce, wonton soup to start, banana fritters for dessert. Among the best meals I’ve had, anywhere. If you’re up in Kerrisdale, try The Golden Ocean. I ate there as a teenager with my family, and still do. Consistently great food, reasonably priced. The Wintermelon Soup and Peking Duck are outstanding. Ask for the amiable and efficient Mike as your server. 

You’d think you were in Greenwich Village, not the western edge of Kitsilano – rough brick walls, oversized paintings of jazz greats, shaky tables crowded together, and the best jazz musicians, from this city and around the world, on stage six nights a week. This is the real deal – one of the top-100 jazz clubs in the world according to Downbeat Magazine – with good food, a well-stocked bar, and its own award-winning record label. You can have a stellar New York-style night of jazz, dinner, wine and drinks for less than $150 a couple, all in. 

Steak is, for me, a rare (and I like mine that way) indulgence. So when I have a steak I want it to be good. The traditional steakhouse, of which Gotham is one, should be a simple and unchanging place: same menu everytime and everywhere; no fanciful inventions or whimsical displays. Yet brilliance is still possible at a steakhouse. Like a brilliant rendition of a jazz standard or a blues tune, traditional form can be filled with stellar substance. By that measure, Gotham is brilliant, the best steakhouse I’ve found anywhere. Great ingredients, perfectly prepared, gracious and knowledgeable staff. Ask for Jaier as your server, a philosopher-of-steaks, and life in general.


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